The course is a USATF-certified 1.061** mile loop around Crissy Field Marsh. It's half asphalt, and half dirt/crushed gravel/sand. I first ran the event in October 2008 (race report), after having only one regular 100-mile event under my belt. I figured it would be "easier to run 100 miles in under 24 hours than it would be to run a 100-miler in under 24 hours," but I was totally wrong. The flat is torture on the muscles, as is the asphalt, as is the monotony. I took a short nap or two, and eked out 82 miles, with an 83rd after the official cutoff.
Despite the pain, I came back again in October 2009, and did a little better. I didn't nap, though I did still take my sweet time on a few rough laps in the night. My recovery when the sun came up was ridiculous. I went from 30 minute laps to 20 to 10 to 8 to 7 to 7, each time with the RD yelling "One more!" At the end, everyone else had lined up and was counting off the final seconds for my sprint to the finish.
I missed it by a half a second! So I officially ran 94.4 miles, not 95.5. And I still had to come back and break 100 miles.
I had a coupon, I needed to be in town this weekend (a summer course I'm teaching starts Monday), and I wanted a crazy race calendar this year, so I signed up again. The race company is under new management, and it's now held on the solstice, which is obviously great for longer daylight hours. My goal was to definitely break 100 miles, and maybe get to 120 if everything went right. However, I had food poisoning Wednesday/Thursday, so it wasn't perfect from the start; I was the opposite of carbo-loaded. My strategy was the same as always, start out doing easy 9-minute miles, bank enough time, and just hang on for dear life.
Despite all this, I did 25 miles in 4 hours, but then hit a small low. I did about 33 in 6, recovered a bit, and did 50 in 9, which is close to my PR. I had some veggie burgers, and soon it was 10PM and my buddy Yuch showed up with George. I don't know what it was like for him, but I felt like I was pretty chipper compared to when my other friends have come out to pace me in this in previous years. (Though, when my sister called me to wish me well, my response was pretty much "leave me alone!")
After Yuch left, I had done 82 in 17, so I had reached the point where all I needed to do to break 100 was maintain 3mph, so I knew it was in the bag. Still, time went really slowly. There was a cold headwind all day and night long on the asphalt section, but thankfully it was at your back on the dirt section. My last calculation was to maintain close to a 4-mph pace so that I would break 100 with 2 hours to spare. I did almost that, breaking 100 after 22:17.
|Finally, 100 miles in under 24 hours|
|And the resulting look of pure joy|
|Views are not too shabby.|
Anyway, the race was pretty painful while it was happening. I repeatedly told myself that I would ask friends never to let me do this again. But now that it's over...
I'm kidding. Partly. I mean, I do feel much better about it now that it's over, and I'm glad I broke 100, and I could see myself trying to set another personal best, but not for at least five years. Crissy Field is absolutely gorgeous, but there are just too many hillier, non-repetitive, non-asphalt courses out there that I haven't seen yet.
Next up on my race calendar is the Tushar 100 at the end of July. Or at least, it was. The 100-mile event was canceled this week due to lack of interest. The 95K is still going on, and I can get the price difference refunded, plus get free entry into any other of Matt Gunn's (mostly excellent) Utah races, no expiration, so I'll probably take him up on that. The 95K is far less repetitive than the 100-mile would have been, so I'll probably like it even more. But maybe now that I'm only running 95K I could add the Big Basin (Skyline to the Sea) 50K the weekend prior? 5,000 feet of elevation loss means I would probably enjoy myself.
*I've finished ten 100's, one was canceled mid-race due to weather, one I walked off the course in protest of how poorly organized it was, the 4mph challenge, and three 24-hour fixed time events, all at Crissy Field.
**Oddly, Coastal Trail Runs, which is run by the same man who started the event for PCTR, says the loop is 1.065 miles, and even gives their USATF cert number. It's possible that the courses are 21 feet different, but I don't think so.